News Archive - March 2010

| Monday, 01 Mar. 2010

 

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03-30-10 Allure of the Seas Adds Four-night Cruise Dec 1, 2010 Vacationers can experience Allure of the Seas, the second and only scheduled sister to the Oasis of the Seas, world's largest cruise ship, with a special four-night cruise departing Port Everglades on December 1, 2010. The special itinerary will feature two days at sea and a call at Labadee, Royal Caribbean private beach destination on the northern coast of Haiti. Members of the Crown & Anchor Society, the cruise line's loyalty program, and the public can book passage on Allure of the Seas' new voyage beginning March 31, 2010.

Guests booked on the December 5 inaugural seven-night voyage have until April 30, 2010, to choose to be re-accommodated in the same stateroom on the new cruise. Any price difference will be adjusted on their booking. Additionally, these guests will receive $100 onboard credit per stateroom when adding the new four-night cruise to their existing December 5 booking for an 11-night grand western Caribbean adventure.

Allure of the Seas shares the title of the world's largest cruise ship as the sister-ship Oasis of the Seas. She will span 16 decks, encompass 225,282 gross registered tons, carry 5,400 guests at double occupancy, and feature 2,700 staterooms. Allure of the Seas will tout Royal Caribbean's exclusive neighborhood concept of seven distinct themed areas, which will include Central Park, Boardwalk, the Royal Promenade, the Pool and Sports Zone, Vitality at Sea Spa and Fitness Center, Entertainment Place and Youth Zone. The ship will alternate a Western Caribbean with an Eastern Caribbean seven-night itinerary from her home port of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Additional information is available at www.AllureoftheSeas.com.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand with 21 ships currently in service and one under construction. The line also offers unique cruise tour land packages in Alaska, Canada, Dubai, Europe, and Australia and New Zealand. For additional information or to make reservations, call your travel agent, visit www.royalcaribbean.com or call (800) ROYAL-CARIBBEAN. Travel professionals should go www.cruisingpower.com or call (800) 327-2056.

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03-27-10 Paul Motter on Fox Business News 3-26

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03-24-10 Captain Keith Colburn of "Deadliest Catch" to sail Holland America June 18

Captain Keith Colburn of Discovery Channel's Emmy-nominated "Deadliest Catch" series is scheduled to sail as part of the guest-enrichment program on the June 18, 2010, Alaskan Explorer Voyage aboard Holland America Line's ms Zaandam.

The seven-day cruise sails round-trip from Seattle, and calls at Glacier Bay, Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska, and Victoria, B.C., Canada.

During his cruise, Colburn will share his expertise on how to select, crack and clean fresh crab, while Holland America Line's executive chef demonstrates different ways to prepare and serve this delectable Alaska seafood favorite. Colburn is one of more than 65 celebrated chefs and wine experts scheduled to sail in 2010 and share their expertise in the line's Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine magazine.

Colburn started as a true greenhorn on an Alaskan crabber in 1985. The fishing lifestyle and camaraderie of being part of a crew, along with working in and against the elements, captured him immediately. While initially looking only for adventure in Alaska's unknown waters, Colburn found something unexpected: a career. In 1988, he became a full-share deck hand on the Wizard, and in 1992 he received his master's license and has since remained as captain of the vessel that he eventually purchased.

As captain, Colburn has garnered numerous accolades, including the number-one combined catch history from 1999 to 2005 in a fleet of more than 250 vessels for king crab and snow crab; number-one catcher vessel allocation in the Bering Sea for combined king crab and snow crab from 1995 to present; and number-one snow crab vessel in the Bering Sea crab fleet in 2002 and 2004.

Colburn is an avid outdoorsman and adventurer. He is an expert skier and enjoys bicycling, skydiving, sailing, rock climbing, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, fly fishing and river rafting. The crabbing expert has cycled over 3,000 miles in Europe and has traveled to more than 25 countries around the world.

Since its television debut in 2005, "Deadliest Catch" has been Discovery Channel's number-one regular series. Viewers follow the captains and crew of crab-fishing vessels in the Bering Sea as they struggle against treacherous weather conditions to perform one of the deadliest — and most lucrative — jobs in the world.

Holland America Line's Culinary Arts Center

Holland America Line's Culinary Arts Center is featured on each of the line's 14 ships. A first-class "show kitchen at sea," the Culinary Arts Centers presented by Food & Wine magazine resemble the elaborate show kitchens used by celebrity chefs on television cooking programs. The facilities offer demonstrations, tastings and hands-on cooking classes aboard every Holland America Line sailing.

Each facility features a theater-style venue, with two large plasma video screens and a large cooking display counter where guests can learn from and interact with the masters. On cruises that do not have a celebrity chef on board, hands-on classes and demonstrations in the show kitchen are scheduled with Holland America Line's own expert chefs.

Holland America Line also offers a youth Culinary Arts Center activity program to teach kids and teens how to cook. The program incorporates dishes from breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in complimentary 45-minute-long classes. Kids under eight years old learn to make theme cookies, fruit roll-ups, ice cream sandwiches, salad people art and scones. Kids eight and over make soft pretzels, granola bars, pita chips and hummus, and saltwater taffy. Teens also can attend adult culinary demonstrations.

For a full schedule of Holland America Line's culinary guest program, visit the Culinary Arts Center tab.

 

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03-23-10 Carnival Earnings Surprise to Upside

Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman and CEO Micky Arison indicated that operating results in the first quarter 2010 were better than the company's December guidance due to a combination of better than expected net revenue yields and lower than expected unit costs. The first quarter included a $0.05 gain from the sale of P&O Cruises' Artemis, as previously announced.

Commenting on the first quarter, Arison said, "We were very encouraged by our results as pricing continued to rebound off last year's lows and we returned to top line revenue growth after a challenging 2009. During the quarter, the booking environment continued to improve for our North American brands and we achieved stronger than expected pricing on close in bookings. In addition, we continue to realize significant cost savings worldwide, though the strength of our performance was masked by rising fuel prices." Higher fuel prices reduced earnings in the first quarter by $0.22 per share as compared to the prior year.

Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) reported net income of $175 million, or $0.22 diluted EPS, on revenues of $3.1 billion for its first quarter ended February 28, 2010. Net income for the first quarter of 2009 was $260 million, or $0.33 diluted EPS, on revenues of $2.9 billion.

Key metrics for the first quarter of 2010 compared to the prior year were as follows:

  • On a constant dollar basis net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day) decreased 2.3 percent for Q1 2010, which was better than our December guidance of down 3 to 4 percent. Net revenue yields in current dollars increased 1.0 percent due to favorable currency exchange rates. Gross revenue yields decreased 1.3 percent in current dollars driven by lower air transportation revenue.
  • Excluding fuel and the gain on the sale of Artemis, net cruise cost per available lower berth day ("ALBD") declined 4.5 percent in constant dollars, which was better than our December guidance of down 2 to 3 percent.
  • Including fuel and the gain on the ship sale, net cruise costs per ALBD increased 3.5 percent on a constant dollar basis (increased 6.2 percent in current dollars). Gross cruise costs per ALBD increased 1.7 percent in current dollars.
  • Fuel price increased 80 percent to $497 per metric ton for Q1 2010 from $276 per metric ton in Q1 2009 and was higher than the December guidance of $474 per metric ton.

    During the first quarter the company announced that the Board of Directors voted to resume its quarterly dividend at $0.10 per share, signifying its confidence in the earnings power of our global cruise brands despite the current economic environment. A further demonstration of our confidence in the business was the company's recent announcement of a memorandum of agreement with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for the construction of two 3,600-passenger ships for Princess Cruises. The 139,000-ton ships would be the largest in the Princess fleet and would enter service in 2013 and 2014. Also during the quarter, the company successfully introduced two new ships, AIDAblu and Costa Deliziosa, for its growing European brands.

    2010 Outlook Since the start of the calendar year, booking volumes for the remaining three quarters are running ahead of the prior year with prices significantly higher than last year's discounted levels. At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of the year are in line with last year at higher prices.

    Arison noted, "We have enjoyed a very robust wave season, setting booking records during the quarter. Wave season bookings were fueled by attractive pricing in the marketplace and pent-up demand from those who postponed vacations last year. As a result, pricing continues to increase, particularly for the peak summer season. Having achieved significantly higher pricing, we expect revenue yields for the remaining three quarters of the year to increase approximately 3 to 4 percent (in constant dollars) compared to last year. Vacationers should take advantage of the current low rates now as prices are going up." The company expects full year net revenue yields, on a constant dollar basis, to increase 2 to 3 percent compared to flat to up 1 percent in its December guidance. Since the December guidance, forecasted constant dollar revenues have increased approximately $170 million. The company expects net revenue yields on a current dollar basis to increase 2 to 3 percent for the full year 2010 compared to 2009.

    The company now expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the full year 2010 to be down approximately 2 to 3 percent on a constant dollar basis compared to down 1 to 2 percent in its December guidance.

    However, since the December guidance, fuel prices have increased. Based on current spot prices for fuel, fuel costs are now expected to increase $483 million for the full year compared to 2009, costing an additional $0.60 per share. Since the December guidance, fuel costs are expected to reduce earnings by $117 million. In addition, strengthening of the U.S. dollar since the December guidance is expected to reduce earnings by approximately $85 million.

    Taking all the above factors into consideration, the company now forecasts full year 2010 fully diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $2.25 to $2.35, compared to its December guidance range of $2.10 to $2.30.

    Second Quarter 2010 Second quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to increase in the 1 to 2 percent range (2.5 to 3.5 percent on a current dollar basis) compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the second quarter are expected to be approximately 3.5 to 4.5 percent lower on a constant dollar basis. However, fuel costs for the second quarter are expected to increase $176 million compared to the prior year, costing an additional $0.22 per share.

    Based on current fuel prices and currency exchange rates, the company expects earnings for the second quarter of 2010 to be in the range of $0.26 to $0.30 per share, down from $0.33 per share in 2009.

    During the second quarter two new ships will debut in Europe-P&O Cruises' 3,100-passenger Azura, and The Yachts of Seabourn's 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn, furthering the company's strategy to expand its global presence.

     

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    03-22-10 NCL Opens Three-day Cruise Sale on Wednesday Norwegian Cruise Line kicks-off its three-day Freestyle Dash limited time offer on Wednesday, March 24 with a special preview day for its Latitudes members (past guests) on Tuesday, March 23.

    Guests may set sail on any of Norwegian's 10 Freestyle Cruising ships to popular destinations such as Alaska, Bahamas & Florida; Bermuda; the Caribbean; Hawai'i and Europe. The offer provides half-off standard cruise deposits and up to $250 in on-board credit per stateroom, based on cruise length and category. Race to book by March 26 before prices increase fleet-wide on April 2, 2010.

    The on-board credit can be used to purchase anything from spa treatments to shore excursions and dinners in any of Norwegian's specialty Freestyle Dining restaurants.

    Guests who book sailings of up to six days and longer will receive $250 in on-board credit when sailing in a Garden Villa; $150 for suites; $100 for mini-suites and deluxe balcony staterooms; $75 for balcony staterooms; $50 for oceanview and $25 for inside staterooms. For sailings of up to five days, guests will receive $100 per stateroom in a Garden Villa; $75 for suites; $50 for mini-suites; $40 for balcony staterooms; $20 for oceanview and $15 for inside staterooms.

    To book a cruise during the Freestyle Dash promotion, call Norwegian at 866-234-7350, visit www.ncl.com, or contact a travel professional.

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    03-22-10 Virus-plagued Celebrity Mercury Sails Again Celebrity Mercury set sail at once again at 8 p.m. last night (Sunday 3-21) after being docked in Charleston for 72 hours by order of the CDC who wanted the extra time to clean the ship and terminal. What was supposed to be a 10-day cruise departing on Friday is now an 8-day cruise.

    This will be the fourth time out since the first cruise when the ship was struck by norovirus onboard a month ago. The cruise previous to the current one was cut short by two days, and then the current cruise was delayed by two days giving the cruise line and other health officials a full four days to clean.

    Officials say they now confident the ship is safe, but even passengers who did not get sick have been highly inconvenienced. Compensation from the cruise line for missed days has been given, but there are always ancillary costs like hotels and airfare that the cruise lines will not cover.

    Booked passengers who did not want to sail on this cruise had the choice of a full refund for their cruise as well as a certificate that can be used on a future trip.

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    03-20-10 Crystal Cruises Announces Perfect Choice Dining Beginning with its January 2011 cruises, Crystal will complement its Crystal Dining Room choices of Classic Main Seating and Classic Late Seating with a brand new option, Open Dining by Reservation and Perfect Choice Dining, offered complimentary in the Crystal Dining Room.

    An expansive online Priority Check-in and Planning Center (PCPC) launching in July will enable any fully paid guests who have opted for Open Dining by Reservation to make nightly reservations in the main dining room in advance of their cruise – in addition to their reservation in each of Crystal's specialty restaurants. More information on the new service is available at www.CrystalCruises.com/PerfectChoiceDining.

    In addition to the main dining room, the program includes the celebrity fare of Nobu and Piero Selvaggio, the Vintage Room and the casual outdoor dining on deck.

    How does one book this?

    Effective immediately, guests can choose Classic Main dining seating, Classic Late dining seating or Open Dining by Reservation when they book their 2011 cruise. Guests already booked on 2011 World Cruise voyages will automatically retain their selection of Classic Main or Classic Late, or they can switch to Open Dining by Reservation by contacting their travel agent or Crystal's Onboard Guest Services at onboardgstsvcs@crystalcruises.com.

    Effective July 2010, the online Priority Check-in and Planning Center (PCPC) launches. Guests who are fully paid for 2011 cruises and who have opted for Open Dining by Reservation can make their individual Crystal Dining Room reservations using the comprehensive PCPC online service. While Crystal currently offers an online pre-reservation system, PCPC will expand pre-reservation services. Details on PCPC services and complete instructions for making reservations will be available at the end of June 2010.

    Tables for two, four, six or eight are available for dinner reservations and reservation times and table size can vary each night. If a specific time is unavailable, the Open Dining by Reservation system will suggest an alternative.

    As a complement to the classically elegant Crystal Dining Room, the award-winning Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity feature specialty dinner restaurants: Prego, Silk Road, and The Sushi Bar. The latter two feature cuisine by Master Chef Nobu Matushisa, while Prego offers signature dishes from Piero Selvaggio's Valentino restaurant. Intimate wine and food experiences for up to 14 guests can be savored in the Vintage Room. Casual on deck evening dining is available on most nights and 24-hour room service is available, including dinners that can be served course by course in one's stateroom or penthouse. All of Crystal's dining venues are complimentary, with the exception of the Vintage Room, which showcases reserve wines.

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    03-16-10 CDC Issues a "No Sail" warning to Norovirus-stricken Mercury CNN is reporting that the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a federal agency responsible for controlling outbreaks of illness, has issued an advisory to Celebrity Cruises that the line must delay the next sailing of Mercury by four days. The CDC has boarded the ship and is conducting a thorough review of procedures.

    Nearly 19% of passengers on the current cruise contracted the virus, about the same percentage as the two previous cruises despite what were believed to be thorough cleanings after each of those two cruises.

    Norovirus can be spread by human contact, or can be left for short periods of time on surfaces. It can also grow in contaminated food containers if the food has not been properly prepared with sufficient cleanliness and heat.

    Until now, 2010 had been a surprisingly noro-free year, but the virus is known to proliferate in February and March, and it is also known to be prevalent in the Charleston SC, from which Mercury is currently home-ported.

    Celebrity has not yet acknowleged the advisory, but it is believed that they will. The line already released the announcement below that the next sailing will be delayed by at least two days.

    Itinerary Change Celebrity Mercury - (March 15, 2010) - During Celebrity Mercury's last sailing, a number of guests onboard experienced a gastrointestinal illness, thought to be a norovirus. In an abundance of caution, we are conducting extensive and thorough sanitizing onboard the ship and within the cruise terminal, as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, to help prevent any illness from affecting the next sailing.

    Regrettably, in order to conduct the extensive sanitizing, it is necessary to delay the departure of Celebrity Mercury March 19 sailing by two days. Boarding is now anticipated to take place on Sunday, March 21 between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Seating in the cruise terminal at the Port of Charleston is very limited. Therefore, we ask that guests scheduled to depart on this sailing not arrive at the pier on Sunday before 4:00 p.m. We apology for this delay and any inconvenience it may cause our guests.

    Due to the delayed departure, it was necessary to make some adjustments to the planned itinerary. Celebrity Mercury will now departed Charleston on Sunday, March 21, be at sea Monday; visit Key West, Florida, Tuesday; Cozumel, Mexico, Wednesday; Costa Maya, Mexico, Thursday; at sea Friday; Nassau, Bahamas, Saturday; and at sea Sunday.

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    03-12-10 Open Auditions for Performers on Norwegian Epic Norwegian Cruise Line today announced the "Search for the Epic Star" talent contest. In celebration of the launch of Norwegian's largest and most exciting Freestyle Cruising ship to date, Norwegian is searching for talented entertainers to perform on board the ship during her inaugural festivities, July 2-4, 2010, in New York. The contest is being hosted on USA TODAY's website, www.epicstar.usatoday.com, and talented performers can enter starting Friday, March 12, 2010.

    Norwegian Epic, which will take entertainment to an entirely new level in cruising, features performances by world renowned Blue Man Group, Cirque Dreams™ & Dinner, The Second City, Legends in Concert, Howl at the Moon and Nickelodeon at Sea™. The "Search for the Epic Star" contest will provide amateur entertainers with the opportunity to share the spotlight with these famed performance groups during the ship's inaugural.

    "Norwegian Epic is known for its groundbreaking, world-class entertainment offerings," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "Therefore, we wanted to take that a step further and search for tomorrow's star and give them a chance to showcase their epic talent during the ship's inaugural."

    Contestants who think their talent is "epic" should submit a video of one minute or less to www.epicstar.usatoday.com by April 25, 2010. Singers, musicians, dancers, jugglers, comics, rappers and more in groups of one to four performers who are 21 years of age and older and reside in the U.S. or Canada are eligible. A panel of esteemed, professional judges including Neil Goldberg of Cirque Productions, Tim Aumiller of Blue Man Group, Beth Kligerman of The Second City and Brian Brigner of Legends in Concert will select eight semi-finalists whose videos will be displayed on USA TODAY's Cruise Log throughout May. Two videos will be shared per week.

    The public will then have the chance to vote at www.cruiselog.usatoday.com for their favorite from June 1-13, 2010. From the top three scoring acts, the judges will select the grand prize winner, who will be announced on June 18, 2010. The top two finalists and grand prize winner will be awarded the opportunity to come to Norwegian Epic's inaugural in New York, July 2-4, 2010. The grand prize winner will also be invited to perform on board during the inaugural cruise, as well as receive a 7-day Caribbean cruise on Norwegian Epic during her inaugural season.

    Judging will be based on creativity, originality, entertainment value, quality of performance and professionalism. Only original content and videos of one minute or less will be considered. Any videos that use licensed material will be disqualified.

    For more information about the contest and to register, please visit www.epicstar.usatoday.com.

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    03-12-10 Oceania Bookings for 2011 Set New Company Records

    Oceania Cruises reported record single-day bookings on Wednesday, March 10, when its 2011 European Collection featuring the line's new flagship Marina went on sale. Reservations for the day exceeded the line's previous record illustrating the ongoing demand for the acclaimed product.

    Two-for-one cruise fares start at just $1,799 per guest and include free Economy Class air transportation from 20 North American gateway cities. Moreover, Oceania Cruises offers an entirely new level of value with unlimited and complimentary bottled water and soft drinks for all guests.

    "The response to the 2011 European Collection has surpassed our most ambitious projections," stated Bob Binder, president of Oceania Cruises. "The incredible interest in our diverse itineraries reaffirms that travelers are seeking unique experiences and is a testament to the quality and value of the Oceania Cruises brand."

    High Style Hits the High Seas Scheduled to debut in January 2011, the 1,258-guest Marina is destined to set new cruise industry standards for her elegant and spacious accommodations and 10 dining venues – six of which are open-seating gourmet restaurants, including Jacques - the first restaurant at sea for Master Chef Jacques Pépin. Other highlights include a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness center, Bon Appétit Culinary Center, grand stairway custom-crafted by renowned French glass master Lalique, and top suites designed by Dakota Jackson and Tocar New York, including Owner's Suites furnished exclusively in Ralph Lauren Home.

    For reservations or to order a brochure, contact a travel agent, visit OceaniaCruises.com or call toll-free 800-531-5658.

     

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    03-09-10 HAL Ryndam Emerges with New Enhancements Holland America Line's ms Ryndam recently sailed with several new enhancements on its seven-day western Caribbean cruises sailing from Tampa, Florida. The premium ship just completed a 17-day dry dock in Freeport, Bahamas, and now features the new, stylish lounge called Mix, a sophisticated Showroom at Sea with several new productions, the complimentary Italian eatery Canaletto, and a complete new stateroom and bath design.

    "We are in the midst of an extensive and exciting phase of our Signature of Excellence enhancements program," said Richard Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs at Holland America Line. "As the most recent ship to receive the new public areas and soft goods, the Ryndam looks wonderful and our guests will feel like they are sailing on a new ship.

    "Our Signature of Excellence investment reaffirms our ongoing leadership by continually raising the expectations of our premium category," Meadows added.

    Public Areas Feature Latest Innovations During dry dock, Canaletto, an Italian restaurant that was introduced aboard ms Eurodam, has been added and comes to life for dinner when a section of the Lido is transformed with glass partitions and an Italian ambiance. Dishes range from putanesca to penne alla vodka. Although there is no charge to dine in the alternative venue, reservations are suggested.

    Nightlife on board Ryndam just got more exciting with the reconfiguration of the existing Casino and Piano bars into Mix, a multi-themed area with three separate bars: Martinis, Champagne and Spirits & Ales, serving their namesakes. Next door, the high-energy casino was redesigned and the main show lounge was transformed into the Showroom at Sea with the ambience of a glamorous nightclub and a new slate of shows. Other public areas around the ship also were refurbished and received new carpeting, and an upscale luxury jewelry shop called Merabella also was added midship to the enhanced main shopping area.

    Staterooms Receive New Look and New Spa Category Completing the enhancements, all Ryndam's staterooms received new carpeting, soft goods and completely renovated bathrooms with new vanities and cabinetry. Sixteen staterooms near the spa (on Verandah deck) became "spa staterooms" featuring a variety of enhanced amenities. Each offers exclusive items such as organic cotton bathrobe and slippers, yoga mat, water fountain, special room service menus and treatments, and more.

    Explorations Team Expands the Exclusive Activities on Ships The Explorations Program – onboard Ryndam and all Holland America Line ships – features a team of specialists with an expanded menu of programs to educate and entertain guests. Each team consists of a Party Planner, LifeStylist, Travel Guide, "Techspert" and Dance Director. On cruises lasting 14 days or more, a book club leader also joins the team.

    The Party Planner host events in the Culinary Arts Center, presented by Food & Wine Magazine, significantly expanding the innovative program which brings more than 70 culinary experts on board each year, in addition to demonstrations and classes held on every sailing. As the destination expert on board, the Travel Guide is the one-stop source for port-of-call information. The "Techspert" leads classes in the Digital Workshop, powered by Windows®, teaching guests how to blog, work with digital photos arrange a digital scrapbook, create a slideshow or edit a movie. Other activities range from dance lessons to wine tasting, floral arranging and craft classes. The LifeStylist leads the Mind, Body and Spirit Program. Developed in cooperation with the Greenhouse Spa, the program focuses on many forms of well being.

    Signature of Excellence tops $525 Million The industry-leading Signature of Excellence initiative is an ongoing and comprehensive program that touches every aspect of the Holland America Line experience and the investment now exceeds $525 million. Signature of Excellence features and amenities offer guests more luxurious accommodations, enhanced dining experiences, more enriching activities and exceptional levels of service.

    For a cruise brochure or for more information, consult a professional travel agent, call 1-877-SAIL-HAL (877-724-5425) or visit www.hollandamerica.com.

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    03-05-10 MSC Magnifica Joins MSC Cruises as 11th Ship in Fleet MSC Magnifica – the fourth Panamax cruise ship in the MSC Cruises Musica class-joins MSC Cruises as the 11th ship in the fleet after being christened in Hamburg, Germany on March 6.

    Renowned Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti, adult contemporary/soft rock/pop artist, performed on stage during the christening while Italian screen legend and icon Sophia Loren, participated in the ribbon cutting as the godmother of her eighth MSC ship.

    MSC Magnifica combines the intimacy of her three Musica Class sister vessels-MSC Musica, MSC Orchestra, and MSC Poesia, with the state-of-the-art facilities and comfort of the company's larger flagships, MSC Splendida and MSC Fantasia.

    A retractable magrodome covers the pool, La Grotta Azzurra, making it possible to enjoy one of the four pools throughout the year regardless of the weather. The Il Bar del Sole area on the top deck boasts its own whirlpools and solarium.

    The ship's 16 bars and lounges, four restaurants, and a large new buffet area-Sahara-will serve Italian and international cuisine; an à la carte restaurant, L'Oasi, will provide fine dining in an exotic Moroccan atmosphere.

    Culinary masterpieces by Mauro Uliassi, the Michelin Star Chef, recipient of three prized Gambero Rosso forks, and winner of the prestigious Kungsfenan Award for the best seafood, are available in the L'Oasi restaurant; soon, they'll be offered in all of MSC Cruises' Musica Class à la carte restaurants.

    There's even a Tiger bar, themed after the striped feline, serving up cocktails and musical acts. Other entertainment features on board include a high-tech 4D cinema, mini-bowling alley and a billiard table in the L'Olimpiade sports bar. L'Olimpiade is the first sports bar featured in the Musica class of ships, and its theme is inspired by the Olympics.

    Relaxation opportunities await guests in the MSC Aurea Spa wellness center for massages, facials, and other specialty spa treatments in a resort-standard setting. Two treatments created just for MSC and are being offered on the MSC Magnifica-Aurea Papaveris, a 60-minute slimming and cellulite treatment, and a Himalayan massage.

    MSC Magnifica sails 7-night Eastern Mediterranean itineraries departing Venice, Italy and calling at Bari, Italy; Katakolon (Olympia) Greece; Izmir, Turkey; Istanbul, Turkey; and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

    For more information about MSC Cruises, visit www.msccruisesusa.com, call 877-665-4655, or contact a local travel professional.

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    03-05-10 NCL Announces Across the Fleet Fare Hikes Norwegian Cruise Line experienced an unprecedented year-to-date increase in booking volume during its "Year of the Freestyle Vacation" wave season promotion in January and February. In addition, group business was up close to twofold. The company also saw a strong interest in its new ship debuting in June, Norwegian Epic, and for its Hawaii-based ship, Pride of America. Because of this demand, prices are set to increase fleet wide up to seven percent as of Thursday, April 2, 2010.

    "Our first quarter wave season promotion definitely persuaded consumers to book a Norwegian cruise vacation as we saw heavy call volumes translating to exceptional bookings," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line chief executive officer. "As we move out of wave season, consumers and travel partners can expect to see our prices rise across the fleet, especially for our new, highly anticipated ship Norwegian Epic."

    Travel partners should take advantage of the current pricing environment for their individual bookings and to block group space up to four months prior to sailing without paying a deposit.

    For more information on Norwegian or to book a cruise, call 866-234-7350, click www.ncl.com or phone a travel professional.

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    03-03-10 Freak Waves in Med Kill Two Passengers on Greek Cruise Ship The Associated Press and other newspapers are reporting the a Greek/Cypriot cruise ship, the Louis Majesty, belonging to Louis Cruise lines was hit by a series of three waves as high at 8 meters (over 24 feet). The victims were only identified as a German and an Italian man. Reports of broken glass and other exterior pieces are also reported. The ship was sailing near the French city of Marseilles. This is the second weather related fatality in or near the Mediterranean Seas in two weeks.

    The ship was built in 1992 and generally caters to only European cruisers. The line is not a member of CLIA, the e cruise organization which the cruise lines covered in CruiseMates are affilated.

    Six others were injured, according to the Greek coastguard. The ship, carrying around 2,000 people, was on its way from Barcelona, Spain to Genoa in Italy.

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    03-02-10 First Sight of Celebrity Eclipse

    The third in Celebrity Cruises' stylish, $3.7-billion Solstice Class fleet, Celebrity Eclipse showed off her sleek profile Sunday as she emerged for the first time from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. Celebrity Eclipse will enter service April 26 and, following two "short break" cruises, will offer a series of Canary Islands, Scandinavia/Russia and Spanish Mediterranean sailings roundtrip from Southampton, England. The new vessel will present Caribbean cruises roundtrip from Miami beginning in November.

     

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    03-02-10 Star Princess on Hold in Chile Until Thursday Noon Princess just released the following statement: Star Princess arrived in Valparaiso, Chile - the terminus of a 12-day South America/Cape Horn cruise - as scheduled this morning, Tuesday, March 2.

    Because air flights are continuing to operate in and out of Santiago on a limited basis over the next several days, we recognize that passengers are having difficulties reaching Star Princess as planned. Therefore we will hold the ship in Valparaiso until noon on Thursday, March 4, giving arriving passengers additional time to meet the ship.

    At that time, Star Princess will depart on a revised itinerary for the next cruise, calling at the ports of Ushuaia, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and ending in Rio de Janeiro on March 16. Passengers who are able to embark Star Princess in Valparaiso at the time of sailing on March 4 will sail on the revised itinerary, and will be advised after departure on their cruise details.

    Passengers who are currently onboard Star Princess and are unable to fly home because of limited air flights, have two options. They can disembark the ship as planned on March 2, or they can remain onboard for the next cruise, and can disembark from any of the ports on the sailing up to and including Buenos Aires.

    We are providing updates to passengers as we receive new information, and we appreciate their patience and understanding as we manage this unforeseen situation. In the meantime, our thoughts are with all those affected by the tragic earthquake in Chile.

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    03-01-10 MSC Cruises Signs Letter of Intent for MSC Favolosa in 2012 Three days after the MSC Magnifica flag ceremony at the STX Europe shipyard in Saint-Nazaire (France), MSC Cruises signed a letter of intent for the delivery of a new ship in June 2012, to join the eleven new vessels built over the past seven years.

    MSC Cruises' worldwide CEO, Pierfrancesco Vago, said, "We are immensely proud to announce the signature of a letter of intent for the building of a new ship, MSC Favolosa."

    The general manager of STX Europe, Jacques Hardelay, said, "We look forward to implementing our expertise to again fulfill the promise of exceptional quality, deliverability, and design for MSC Cruises."

    Measuring 1,094 feet in length and 125 feet wide, MSC Favolosa will have 1,751 staterooms and be able to travel at speeds of up nearly 24 knots.

    Award-winning naval architects De Jorio Design International is once again designing the newest addition to the Fantasia class, technically called V32. The ship will herald a state-of-the-art concept in space management. Two additional lifts to improve flow of the guests and a total redesign of decks and restaurants to offer guests on board unprecedented comfort and the highest space ratio per guest.

    The MSC Yacht Club, this "ship within a ship," will be enlarged and redesigned as well as the Aft Lounge, adults-only area surrounding the Aft Infinity Pool, the casino and the disco

    .

    To achieve the highest environmental standards, substantial investments will onboard also include more efficient evaporators, chillers, a new generation of propulsor motors, and an additional bow thruster to improve maneuverability.

    At a time when many companies are cautious about investing, Vago said, "With this order MSC Cruises again signals the record-breaking extent of its ambition. The new ship will bring our capacity to nearly 1.5 million guests in 2013, confirming both the success of our strategy and our confidence in further growth."

    He added, "This order is also a demonstration of our faith in the STX Europe shipyard, which we are delighted to be able to support in these challenging times. We would like to thank all parties involved in making this initiative possible."

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